Two weeks ago, undefeated WBC Welterweight Champion Floyd “Money” Mayweather Jr. unleashed the challenge the world has been waiting to hear.
“Manny Pacquiao I’m calling you out let’s fight May 5th and give the world what they want to see,” the 34-year-old boxer wrote on Twitter.
The challenge is the latest in a two-year will-they-won’t-they saga that has seen both fighters’ camps bicker over a myriad of details (including money and drug testing) that have ultimately put the dream bout on hold. Many critics have accused Mayweather of dodging Pacquiao, saying he’s scared of the 33-year-old Filipino WBO Welterweight Champion. Coincidentally, Floyd’s sudden confidence comes on the heels of Pacquiao’s less-than-stellar performances against “Sugar” Shane Mosley and Juan Manuel Marquez.
For now, fight negotiations have once again stalled as the two sides hammer out date, venue and money details, but according to boxing legend Sugar Ray Leonard, the time to fight is now.
“Every day it becomes less and less of an opportunity,” Leonard told Xfinity Entertainment during a recent interview promoting the movie “Real Steel.” “Every day it loses its fabric, its magic. Pacquiao and Marquez took some magic out of the fight now. Every time they fight and look ordinary, it takes magic away from them.”
He continued, “But will it happen? I’m kind of an optimist. I think it’s gonna happen. It has to happen.”
Leonard, a former welterweight, light middleweight, super middleweight and light heavyweight champion, is no stranger to the Mayweathers. In 1978, Leonard defeated Floyd Mayweather Sr. – his first world-ranked opponent – via 10th round TKO. When asked to pick a winner in a still-hypothetical Mayweather/Pacquiao fight, Leonard hesitated at first.
“You know, I kept waffling back and forth from Mayweather to Pacquiao, to Mayweather to Pacquiao,” the 55-year-old said. “Right now, I give a slight edge to Mayweather. But don’t bet your house on it.”
He also rejected the popular notion that Mayweather has been dodging his arch-nemesis and refuted that suggestion that Floyd made his May 5th challenge knowing that Manny would not accept such an epic fight less than five months out.
“[Floyd’s] a real fighter and he can fight. He’s not dodging him,” Leonard said. “One time I said, ‘Well, maybe it’s the money.’ There’s so much money on the table, it’s not an issue. I think it’s just a psychological warfare – a little edge, a mental edge. And maybe, at this point, Mayweather has that edge from the [recent] performance of Pacquiao.”
“Real Steel” is now available on Blu-ray, DVD and On Demand. Leonard, who served as boxing consultant on the film, is highlighted in a Blu-ray combo pack featurette called “Sugar Ray Leonard: Cornerman’s Champ.” Other bonus features include deleted and extended scenes, bloopers and making-of segments.
The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.